To call Anthony Bourdain a “celebrity chef” is a bit off the mark. Sure, he paid his dues and ended up at a pretty high-profile gig running the kitchen at Les Halles in New York City, but it wasn’t until his 2000 expose Kitchen Confidential, that he started to enter the public consciousness.
And he hasn’t stepped away since, riding his reputation as a maverick outsider in the world of food and restaurants to several more books, both fiction and non-fiction, a couple of TV series, A Cook’s Tour, and No Reservations, which airs on the Travel Channel, as well as lucrative speaking and guest-hosting gigs on shows like Bravo’s Top Chef.
Having made his name as an outsider looking in on the foodie culture that has sprung up in America, he’s never been one to shy away from biting the hand that feeds him, as he’s often done by berating Food Network fixtures such as Emeril, Guy Fieri, Rachel Ray, and, most recently Paula Deen.
Bourdain took his criticisms of the home-spun matron to TV Guide of all places, where he opined:
She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is … bad for you. … Plus, her food sucks.” Deen was caught off guard by the comments, claiming that she has never met Bourdain, and serves a different demographic than he does.
As of press time, Deen had fired back to Page Six:
Anthony Bourdain needs to get a life. You don’t have to like my food, or Rachael’s, Sandra’s and Guy’s. But it’s another thing to attack our character.
She’s got a point.
It’s just in his nature to snipe his former channel-mates today as he’s done many times before, so let’s see where Bourdain’s barbs have taken him in the past and establish a trend.
Emeril was the first celebrity chef to feel the wrath of Bourdain, drawing his ire before Bourdain had even made a name for himself. In Kitchen Confidential, Bouradin refers to Emeril as an “Ewok,” which is true from a physical standpoint, but sort of mean nonetheless. He also referred to him as a “hack,” which is pretty much definitively untrue, in that Emeril was able to pave the way for a man like Bourdain, creating a food-conscious audience to which Bourdain could speak, for better or worse.
Bourdain has since stepped away from his vitriolic comments, claiming that Emeril was always in on the joke and that he has never wished anything but the best for the diminutive cook. Speaking to TV Guide, Bourdain offered this conciliatory statement.
Since the very beginning, Emeril’s had a sense of humor about me calling him names and poking fun at him. Unlike Rachael and unlike a lot of these guys, Emeril’s a professional who came up in the business the hard way. You don’t make it in the restaurant business to the degree he’s made it by having a thin skin. He’s been very gracious and funny to me since the beginning.
I think he deserves a lot better. The last thing I guess you should expect from a television network is to be grateful. But it seems to me that if anyone has earned that, it’s him. I love Mario [Batali's] shows on the Food Network, too, but he’s gone as well. I don’t know who’s left standing.
Careful you don’t fall over backpedaling like that, Tony.
Guy Fieri… did you ever see the Simpsons episode where it’s decided that Itchy and Scratchy need a sidekick? So a committee gets together and they invent one called Poochie…. Guy Fieri kind of looks like he’s been designed by committee.
Bourdain spilled this to TV Guide (apparently his favorite venting avenue). OK. That one’s hard not to like. I’ve also heard Guy Fieri referred to as a “human chili-cheese fry.” His criticism is more funny than it is scathing, but something tells me Bourdain would knock those Oakleys off the back of his head and sand off those flame tattoos if he was given the chance.
In fact, he said so in a different TV Guide interview when he offered simply:
I look at Guy Fieri and I just think, ‘Jesus, I’m glad that’s not me.
Still…Guy Fieri is totally Poochie.
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